Using virtual reality for early detection of balance issues in people with Multiple Sclerosis.
We know that there are three main components of balance – vision, proprioception and the vestibular system. Much of our knowledge of where we are in space comes from our visual inputs from the environment. This connection explains why amusement parks like Universal Studios can create rides that barely move, yet with the visual stimulus and animation our brains are tricked to believe we are moving all around. But what about in therapy?
Researchers from UNC School of Medicine used a virtual reality system to give subjects the illusion that they were falling as they were walking on a treadmill. They found clear differences in reactions between people with multiple sclerosis and people of the same age without MS. The team states that these differences were not evident between the groups when they walked on the treadmill without the “falling” illusion in the virtual reality. These findings suggest that virtual reality tests may be beneficial in detecting early balance issues in these patients, helping to reduce falls and related injuries.
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Source:“Can optical flow perturbations detect walking balance impairment in people with multiple sclerosis?”. Brian P. Selgrade, Diane Meyer, Jacob J. Sosnoff, Jason R. Franz. PLOS ONE doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230202.